Release Date: Jul 6, 2015
Record label: Columbia
While Lucy Rose’s debut showcased her ability as a potential-filled songwriter, it’s on Rose’s second record that she truly steps out and forges ahead with something quietly inventive, and, to be frank, far bolder. Lucy Rose has openly admitted that radio favourite ‘Our Eyes’ in particular took her outside of her comfort zone, but really, the sparse bass-lines, and unpredictable melodies she’s carved out fit her writing like a memory-foam mattress. ‘Till The End’ swerves off into new territory, too, and Rose’s voice unexpectedly finds its context in big, bolshy beats.
Beefed out rock ‘n’ roll sounds, eighties keyboards and abundant synths are the surprising pre-eminent features of Lucy Rose’s second album Work It Out. Opening and closing tracks "For You" and "Into The Wild" will be comfortingly familiar to diehard fans as the acoustic-y tracks which most resemble her debut Like I Used To. This correctly implies the middle 11 tracks are a shift of emphasis.
Lucy Rose's sophomore album, Work It Out, marks appreciable changes for the singer/songwriter: it was recorded at London's Snap Studios instead of largely in her parents' living room, produced by Rich Cooper (Mark Knopfler, Mystery Jets), and embraces drums, keyboards, and pop production, in general, for a modified palette. The new direction is clearly a conscious one, moving from sparse, strummed acoustic indie folk to a driving, atmospheric, electronic sound, though all remains governed by Rose's foamy vocal delivery. More enlivened arrangements include persistent drums, mixed high on the uptempo, rhythm-focused "Köln," a song unlike anything on her debut.
There is, you would hope, a special circle of Hell reserved for singer-songwriters who take classic songs, strip away their essence, blandify them on a molecular level and license the resulting nu-folk novelty to mobile phone companies, ruining everyone’s enjoyment of the original until the next model is released and the whole hateful cycle begins anew. Yet the memory of Lucy Rose’s take on Primal Scream’s ‘Movin’ On Up’ soundtracking a 2013 Sony Xperia campaign isn’t the only reason to approach her second album with some degree of trepidation. Laura Marling, Lana del Rey, Lykke Li, Courtney Barnett, Torres, Florence – there’s a veritable panoply of empowered female mavericks challenging preconceived ideas of what a singer-songwriter should be, but Rose’s 2012 debut – the pleasant-but-insubstantial ‘Like I Used To’ – sometimes appeared happy to conform to age-old clichés.
The video for Lucy Rose’s recent single, ‘Our Eyes’, is genuinely brilliant. Rose wears a series of suits covered in dog biscuits and sausages, then grass, then chips. The camera catches her delighted hysterics as she’s gently mauled by hounds, tiny horses and seagulls, chased by animals around fields and circled by fake shark-fins in the sea.
In the three years since Rose’s folky debut album, the singer-songwriter has continued her streak as an accomplished backing vocalist, featuring on albums for both Manic Street Preachers and Bombay Bicycle Club. Her new album, however, lacks the texture that her voice adds to the male-led vocals of these bands. Although Work It Out sees Rose develop a poppier sound (the bouncy hooks and catchy melodies of singles Like An Arrow and Our Eyes are unabashedly chart-oriented), the album retains the innocuousness of her folkier days: all the elements of solid indie pop are here, but too often it amounts to a familiar and underwhelming sound.
Her second album, Lucy Rose promised earlier this year, would “sort a few things out. Who I am. What I do.” Indeed it does: who she is turns out to be another singer-songwriter so pleasant and nondescript as to be almost entirely devoid of musical personality. And what she does turns out to be supplying the kind of music that fails to make an impression down the phone line while you’re waiting for the customer service operative to get to your call.